Revised Version of Greatest TV Shows Ever…

•May 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Everyone, In 2007 I documented a “Revised” version of my list of the Greatest TV Shows Ever.  Over the course of five years, so much has changed.  Many of the shows I listed have been forgotten, some ranked high based on potential fell flat, and some shows never heard of have now become list worthy. 

Below I have reproduced my original list with some added thoughts with the power of hindsight in italics.

 At the bottom I have included an Addendum with fresh commentary on current rankings and recent shows.  It’s a lengthy document, but enjoy.  There are some real gems here.

Forward – For years lists have been circulating with valuable insight into my compendium of television shows and their ranking in the pantheon of great tv.  For the first time here is the Authorized Version, revised, of my rankings.  I think this list is a great baseline for any discussion on tv today or future challenges from interlopers longing to enter into it’s canon.

20) Jack and Jill – The only “known” tv show on the WB to be given 4 stars by C.T. Joyner.  The brilliance was in the freshness of Simon Rex’s character.  Can we ever forget Don Rojas?  Apparently we can, as no one remembers this show, but I challenge everyone to view the cast list; all-star for sure.

19) Felicity – This roster of stars included Scott Foley, Scott Speedman, Greg Grunberg, Simon Rex, Aimee Smart and Jennifer Garner.  And let’s not forget Kerri Russell who will be back on the big screen soon!  It sucked you in and told beautiful stories.  I have no doubt that today I would overlook Dawson’s cultural impact and swap their places in the rankings.

18) The Practice –  Interestingly enough this show was winning its Emmy for Best Drama Series in 1998 and 1999, the same years an old Cuban refugee known as ‘El Duque’ was helping the Yankees win World Series Championships.  Coincidence, I think so.

17) The Incredible Hulk – The “Lonely Man” theme still brings me to tears as it poetically brings to mind and heart the tortured pain of David Bruce Banner.  Also who can forget the quote, “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”  You’re getting chills right now, I know.

16) 7th Heaven – The cornerstone of the WB television network and it’s longest running show finally brought into our homes a “family” centered drama in the vein of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and ‘Father Knows Best.’  Oddly enough, with such a large cast, it’s only bankable young star has been Jessica Biel.  Our next hope is the dude that starred in the short lived series ‘What About Brian.’

15) 24 – Jack Bauer.  I can’t really say anymore. I should though. My biggest frustration is that Tony Almeida didn’t get his own spin-off.

14) Saved By The Bell – This is the only show on this list that lived on Saturday’s and does not fall into the hour long television drama category.  But, for most of us, its characters will live in our memories forever.  Zack, Kelly, Screech, AC, Jessie….thank you all.

13) Everwood – (I never watched an episode of this show where I didn’t cry).  Too angry at times, but a very thoughtful show in tune with the realness of human relationships.  Ephraim and Amy’s romance was complicated and beautiful.

12) My So Called Life – I tell this story every time, but the scene rages in my head with its brilliance;  Angela leaned back against a chain linked fence and Jordan leaned in real close and said, “Why are you like this?” “Like what?” “Like how you are?”  Then he coolly walked away.  Someone give the director an Emmy.

11) Roswell – I cannot say enough about this show.  It lasted only 3 Seasons, and at times it was campy and disappointing, but it sucked you in and wouldn’t let you go.

10) Heroes – When the presses heat up for next year’s Revised Version look for this to be the biggest winner.  Sitting at #10 for now, it has the potential to enter top 5 territory.  The only thing this show has against it is the abundance of subtitles that drive me crazy.  The stories are tight though, and it continually leaves you wanting more.  If this show hits a seventh season we can talk about it being #1.  Potential is a terrible thing to live up to.  Unfortunately, this show completely lost the mission and was cancelled without any true closure.  The case for a #10 ranking has been voided, and I can only expect to drop this completely off the list.

9) Smallville – From a previous email dated July 12, 2007 “The single greatest retelling done on any significant mythical character EVER.”  From the mouth of Lex Luthor, “Trust me Clark, our friendship will be the stuff of legend.”  This show is one I would sit down and watch with my children.  It is that good.

8) Dawson’s Creek – In retrospect it was controversial for controversy sake and often bogged down in dense language, one was forced to muddle through, but brilliant.  The WB needed this show, and so did America.  But, America does not need its teachers sleeping with its underage students.

7) American Dreams – NBC got it right with this television show.  It was Friday Night Light’s before FNL came to tv.  The only show C.T. Joyner has a published commentary on, and we contributed over 20 emails to its evaluation as a series. Four out of four stars. It breaks my heart but this is one of 3 shows on the list that will completely be removed with this revision.

6) La Femme Nikita – Hands down easily a top 5 pick, but landed at #6 because the cost to add it to your DVD collection is too high to seriously recommend anyone going out to buy it, and despite my numerous inquiries, Blockbuster refuses to add it to its rental list.  So, ask for it for Christmas and buckle up.  There would have been no Alias or 24 without this series. The current Nikita on the CW is also strong, but it fell prey to strong competition and is not in my viewing rotation.

5) Party of Five – Every year the network tried to cancel it, and every year its fans came to its rescue.  From commentary made June 18, 2004: Then as they stood in the room, she was wearing overalls, and I think she was painting, but anyway, Bailey looked at her and said “Why are you still with me Sarah?” and without flinching she looked at him and said “It’s no big deal. I mean it’s what it was always, pretty much.  I love you.  That’s all.” Oh, tears flowed down my cheeks, it was so honest and open and it was just this perfect moment that you can’t let go of. She had nailed it. That was genius. That was talent. At this point if you are wondering who “she” was it was the great Jennifer Love Hewitt (JLH).

4) Friday Night Lights – Let me preface this by saying that FNL @ #4 is a lot like people gearing up for A-Rod to break the Home Run record and restore balance back to the force.  This ranking is based in large part on potential.  But here are a few things to consider to validate its ranking: 1) Its humanness 2) Its honesty 3) Its vulnerability.  This show is like a mirror that is reflecting our very existence right back at us.  Take time to watch this show people, once it’s gone, much like Jalen Rose, you can never get it back.

3) Angel – The Vampire with a Soul.  A successful spin-off, which inspired the copy cat televison show airing this fall, ‘Moonlight’.  David Boreanaz is a genius and the supporting cast brilliant.  He does dramatic, comedic, romantic, and heroic without missing a beat.  Never has a camp been so divided over who a character should love forever.  Where do you fall on the Angel/Buffy or Angel/Cordelia debate? This would be #1 if I didn’t have to take into account the impact the next two shows had on our entire culture.

2) Buffy the Vampire Slayer – From the brilliant mind of Joss Whedon comes a character so unique there are university classes that focus on her.  She is strong, brave, and resilient.  She loved greatly, fought bravely, and captured the collective consciousness of a generation.  The story was so good that it survived a failed movie interpretation to be reinvented for tv. At this point I cannot say enough about the great Sarah Michelle Gellar.  She is one of the greatest actresses of ours or any generation.  Had any television producer brought her, Keri Russell and JLH together in a series…instant gold.  Just revisit the big 2 in ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer.’

1) Beverly Hills 90210 – Unmistakable theme song.  Great characters.  Excellent actors.  Dramatic storylines.  Without Brandon, Dylan, Kelly and the others, we as a people may not be watching tv today.  I still remember Dylan clutching his dead wife in the pouring rain as Brandon looked on horrified.  That my friends; is drama.  That is the essence of television.


A) Alias – It is truly amazing how this show ended its run in 2006 and in 2007 I still was unable to accept its brilliance.  Few espionage thrillers on television were as cutting edge, capturing the dual life an agent has to have, along with a forward moving premise based on a consuming quest for power and knowledge.  We must also hold the love affair between Sydney Bristow and Michael Vaughn to be one of the most compelling ever!  Plus, no character was despised, loved and misunderstood like Sydney’s father Jack.  I am pulling ‘The Practice’ out of rotation and placing ‘Alias’ in the #19 spot.

B) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Two Seasons, the return of BAGs and inconsolable grief upon its cancellation.  No show has captured the core of man’s struggle against machine with its ever present love and reliance on them as TSCC.  The stories were compelling, the music was woven intricately into each episode and the acting was high level.  Despite probable protestations by C.T. Joyner, ‘Jack and Jill’ must fall out and TSCC will take the #20 spot.

C) The Vampire Diaries:  I thought that all the great stories had been told about vampires when Buffy and Angel had their swan song.  I was terribly wrong.  To be perfectly honest, after the Season 3 finale, I would have put this in the #1 spot without hesitation.  But, then I took a breath.  I am not ready to do that just yet.  Instead, I am dropping ‘American Dreams’ from my list and adding ‘The Vampire Diaries’ in with a strong debut at #4 moving La Femme, Pof5, and FNL down one.  I am sure Elena, Damon, Stefan and the Originals will one day hold the top spot, but today is not that day.

*Although I am unable to rank these today, some shows to earmark for induction:

a) The long running but at times disjointed ‘Supernatural’

b) The fresh and visually stunning ‘Grimm’

c) The USA landmark television legal drama ‘Suits’

….like many athletes who don’t make the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, many shows with lengthy runs require significant thought in hindsight.  Grey’s Anatomy, House and Fringe may one day find themselves on the list.  Only time will tell.

…for posterity I would also like to note the strong debuts of ‘Revenge’, ‘Blue Bloods’, ‘Touch’ and ‘The Secret Circle’ as historical markers of the overall television landscape.

Kyrie Irving (2) – Something to ‘Witness’

•January 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

ImageThe ‘King’ is dead, but don’t worry, hope is here.


FNL QB’s – Ranked

•November 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever wondered who was the greatest High School QB to ever lace it up in Dillon on FNL?  From Season 1 through Season 5 there has been no single position more important for the success of  Dillon football or Coach Taylor’s teams than QB1.  So, from worst to first, here is the official FNL QB Ranking:

6) #9 – We know nothing about the overall record of the Dillon Panthers in Season 5, but we do know #9 was their leader.  We know only a handful of facts about #9:  1) He was JD McCoy’s successor.  2) He was coached by the controversial but offensive minded Mac McGill 3) He lost to Vince Howard’s Lions in the crosstown rivalry game.  We saw his arm strength on display but know that regardless of his pedigree, he would not be QB1 when the “Super Team” was created.  As a shadow in this great traditions history, #9 will always be just a footnote.

5) Jason Street – Although we know a scout from Notre Dame thought he was the best high school QB he had ever seen and his heroics were always talked about, Jason Street never won State and actually never beat Arnett Mead.  There is no telling what this boy could have done had he not been paralyzed.  His determination and knowledge of the game may have been the very edge that got that Panthers Team a State ring, but his influence was greater in the chair than out of it.  He will always be idolized, but Jason Street means more as a pesona than a person behind center.

4) Voodoo – Much ballyhooed Louisiana State Championship QB, Ray “Voodoo” Tatum could have been the greatest QB in Dillon and possibly Texas high school football history.  The unfortunate events of Katrina brought him to Dillon, and his skills were extraordinary.  His speed was blazing and his arm was magnificent.   His attitude however destroyed his opportunity to be a Taylor disciple.  Voodoo did lead the Mustangs to State, but he watched Saracen take home the ring.  He is a champion, but not in any other way than on paper in a place drowned by flood waters.

3) JD McCoy – He was the single most polished QB prospect ever to wear Panther blue.  On the practice field he was a highlight real.  Unfortunately, like the great Todd Marinovich, McCoy had daddy issues.  He also suffered from a temper and the inability to overcome adversity.  He was benched at State, he lost to a mediocre East Dillon team, and ended his Panther career without the much-anticipated return to State.  He failed.  He was spoiled.  He was a disappointment to all who wear the #12.

2) Matt Saracen – “Seven.”  He was an artist.  He was a friend.  He was a shy boy thrust into the spotlight of Dillon high school football.  He was a leader.  He worked hard.  He was the least talented person on this list.  But, Matt Saracen never gave up.  He fought for every yard.  He is a State champion.  Matt Saracen could run the post, and run the slant for respect, but he could also “run this pattern” for all to fear him.  He is the heart of the Dillon Panthers and the first true King made by the King Maker.

1) Vince Howard – Howard was not an actual Dillon Panther on screen.  #5 was an East Dillon Lion, although future QB1 of the Dillon Panther “Super Team”.  He was a State champion and led the single worst team in Texas high school history from worst to first.  He could throw a 60 yard bomb or run past any defense to get into the end zone.  He was perfection.  He was also Coach Taylor’s greatest legacy.   For the record books Vince Howard was the Last Lion QB to win a State Title and in our imaginations the greatest Dillon Panther to ever win one as well!  When Buddy Garrity, Tim Riggins and Matt Saracen hold up their hands, they have 1 ring, 1 blue stone.  When Vince holds up his, he displays two traditions that run with honor and pride through the city of Dillon.  “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.”

What a wild ride.  What an amazing show.  Truly some great QB’s came out of the Dillon football machine.  They all have stories.  They are all legends.  Texas Forever!

The Lying Game…

•October 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I want to preface this by saying that I have loved this show from the beginning and the ending of “East of Emma” is going to bring me back in Jauuary, but I would caution the writers: It is imperative that there is “closure” and then a new set of storylines.  PLL is now facing a huge problem with viewers who are tuning out because the mystery never ends.  Everything has to end.  Change is imperative. 

So, who are the prime suspects: Annie Hobbs, Derek Rogers, Alec Rybak, Clarice Boyle  and Emma Becker.

All had motive and opportunity.  Unfortunately, the show’s ending left us with nothing but questions.  So, this is what I think:

Leaving us wondering if Emma was in the back seat by having her show up to the party in a new dress and wet hair is a red herring.  It’s a rabbit trail.  Having her do harm to her sister is untrue to the character and puts the show into a hole it couldn’t escape.  Nothing Emma has done or said would ever justify such a twist.

The most likely person to be in the back seat was Clarice Boyle.  She was angry after the confrontation with “Sutton”, she was out income after the Foster Care ruling and it would be very realistic for someone to try and regain control of someone they had dominated for so long.  She is also an easy charater to nail to the wall without creating a huge stir for the series going forward.

On the flip side, the fugitive Annie Hobbs may also make a lot of sense.  She was confused, lied to and had already acted out when confronted with her daughter’s presence at the facility.  It also explains her racing off after seeing “Emma” at the party, because she knew she had to get back to the lake and undue the mistake she made.

New Lows…

•September 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

We are young.  We are lacking depth.  We have very little talent.  The coaching staff is new.  Too many excuses, not enough positive results.  This is the life of a Browns fan!

Hits like Gold…

•September 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Much like with the late “Nate Dogg”, you throw Christina Aguilera on a track and it becomes gold.

Unfortunately, as the main act, she falls far from the peaks her talent should take her.

SMG Back on TV…

•July 29, 2011 • 1 Comment

With the CW bringing Sarah Michelle Gellar back to television with their new show “Ringer” it is a good idea to take some time to debate this important question:  Is Sarah Michelle Gellar (SMG) the greatest actress of this generation?  I am going to say, quite possibly…we’ll have to see how this pans out.

Other Nominees:

Kerri Russell, Jennifer Love Hewitt (JLH), Emilie de Ravin, Alyson Hannigan and Mischa Barton 



FNL, The End…

•July 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Hey, I am sure you guys read Grantland, but here is the article about the end of FNL.  Honestly, for myself, I fell in love with Season 1.  I don’t think there was a better show on tv during FNL’s first season. See my comparison below. Then, I got confused by the murder and half-heartedly watched most of Season 2, caught a few of the first episodes of Season 3 and gave up on it.  I think I will buy these on DVD and start over.  For me it seems worth it.  I don’t think there was a more well written show on tv during its run, but it carried with it many distractions like plot, pacing, day/time slot, switching of networks, coach switching high schools, etc…it was an uphill battle. 
I put FNL into a category with the following shows.  These shows had remarkable first seasons, but due to many factors couldn’t truly reach their full potential. 
1) Roswell – Roswell crashed in Season 3.  It was apparent that all involved were ready for the show to die, and they killed it. 
2) Angel – A great 5 season ride. (If you count time served on Buffy, these characters were part of an 8 year television run). Each episode was very good, but many of the story arch’s seemed incomplete.   
3) Heroes – This show had the single greatest 1st season of all.  Fell flat over the next 3.  Too many characters and too many ?’s.
4) FNL – See above.
5) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – This was the last show I actually refused to watch DVR’d and had to watch live.  It was terrific and with the edition of BAGs in Season 2, I expected a lengthy run.  Then, Fox pulled the plug.  I was inconsolable for weeks.  The single greatest television tragedy of my lifetime.

Alex Morgan; #13 on the Pitch, #1 in our Hearts…

•July 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In honor of yesterday’s US victory over France, I give you the hope for America’s soccer future, Alex Morgan:

The formal Letters…

•July 6, 2011 • 1 Comment

Just a specific thought I have been having that is shared by my readers:

fL: J Paul, for many reasons, the NBA saw a resurgance of interest this season.  How do you think the lock-out will affect the future of the sport? – Bryan Brown, Boston, MA.

JP: I fully expect the NBA to cancel the 2012 season.  That being said, in the end, the owners will win out and the new NBA will have a much better foundation.  However, much like the NHL discovered, winning the fans back will be tough.  I give it three years to recover and the NBA being “Fantastic” again in 2015.

The real issue facing the NBA is one of perception.  It is a speculative league spending millions on unproven and raw talent.  It is a star driven league with teams asssembling only pockets of fans loyal to any given team.  They live on headlines generated off of projected free agent movement opposed to the “now” of real action.

The NBA also produces the least “professional” of the professional athletes.  Each year the NFL, MLB and NHL are infused with talent that in the majority of cases can make an instant impact because of rigorous training and preparation over time.  This year, the Top  pick made by the Cavs played 11 regular season college games!  Their 2nd pick played only 1 full college season.  How can they be expected to play professional level basketball? 

The NBA needs a drastic change to its current model, and I hope they don’t play again until that happens.  The league needs to develop “team” oriented fan bases, make player development more of a priority, and become fiscally responsible.

…they should also fine LeBron James for playing so horrible during playoff games.